Balenziaga: We Have To Go Out With The Right Mentality
Athletic Club’s pursuit of seventh place in the La Liga table is still a possibility. The Lions currently trail by eight points with only five games left in the season, but the race for the final European qualifying spot is not over yet. On Friday, left-back Mikel Balenziaga spent some time as a guest on Radio Popular de Bilbao and discussed the difficulty of the current season, but also said that the team will not stop fighting until the season is over, no matter how unlikely it is that they will be able to finish seventh.
“Yes, yes, it is still possible mathematically. We know it is very, very difficult and that we have to go match by match. We need to add three points against Levante and try to win as many remaining matches as possible. Things have not gone as well as we all would have liked, but there are still five games left. We cannot throw in the towel. We will continue fighting until the end and try to achieve as many points as possible. We can still end the season with good feelings.”
Looking ahead to Monday’s game against Levante, Balenziaga said that he knows it will be a very tight game. Levante are still fighting against relegation so they will be desperate for points, but the Lions also understand the importance of a victory at the San Mamés. When asked about the future of current manager Kuko Ziganda, the defender was very quick to point out that the topic isn’t something that he should be focused on or discussing with the media.
“We expect our opponents to make us uncomfortable and to be very focused because they are still fighting against relegation. So we have to go out with the right mentality and be just as focused so we don’t have the same start as we did against Deportivo. I’m looking forward to the Levante match and to show that we can give the same performance that we did in our last game. Both we and the fans want to see that best level and a consistent Athletic from match to match. Ziganda’s future? I’m not the one who has to focus on those things, I think it is something that we will find out at the end of the season. He has a contract and it has been a difficult year. but I’m not the one who should be speaking about it.”
Athletic’s record against Levante has been impressive, especially at the San Mamés. The Basques have won five of the last six meetings at the San Mamés, the only loss coming back in May of 2013 when Levante came away victorious at the final match ever played at the old San Mamés. Monday’s match will be vital for both sides, and should be thrilling to watch. If Athletic can come away with all three points they could potentially move to within five points of seventh place with four games remaining on the calendar. Qualifying for Europe would be a story for the ages, but it still isn’t impossible.